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I'm ambivalent about Kindle; if I had a passive commute on a bus or train I'd probably like it, but for reading at home give me paper. I left a comment over at Wren's place about the ancillary issue of storing/archiving paper memories.


Great piece, Lance.

In our current city, there are five bookstores: the small used bookshop with the former historian who will talk your ear off about local gossip; the tiny Walden books in the out-of-the-way mall; the two college bookstores; the bookstore/coffeeshop that mostly specializes in magazines. All of them are quite small; each is a single room, except for the used bookstore, which is two tiny rooms.

The first and the last are wonderful places for connecting with people - none of them are all that great for obtaining books, simply because they are small. Ditto the library - it's a great resource, but it, like the Walden bookstore, has a tendency to offer only books 2 and 3 of trilogies if you're lucky, book 2 if not.

So I end up buying a lot of books online, or in great binges when I visit a city with a richer book market. And what I find is that in buying books online - actual books, nevermind the ebooks - you lose not only that rubbing-elbows aspect of "going to the fair" - you also lose the pleasure of the serendipitous discovery. Now, Amazon and a number of the other book e-tailers try to capture that with all those "other customers purchased x" or "you might also like" recommendations - but that doesn't capture the wonderful experience of just walking by a shelf at random, only to have an amazing book you never knew existed jump out at you.

I'm a historian, and writer, and the child and god-child of librarians, so I'm somewhat doomed to adore books as books, those wonderful objects smelling of dust and glue and fresh new paper or well-loved old paper. I own a number that I'm unlikely to read, just because they appealed to me as objects. But I agree - there's an appeal to the Kindle during travel - so my solution is not fewer books, but more opportunities to rent Kindles in airports, bus stations, and the like. There's a place for both; the mistake is in believing that the one is a replacement or an equivalent of the other. They're not.

(And on the tactile experience of reading books versus scrolling down the screen - one of the reasons I require my students to handwrite notes for exams, or rough drafts if they're having trouble getting started, is that a written letter or word feels different from other words or letters - while a typed Q feels about the same as a typed A or a 1, and it is completely possible to transcribe a great amount of text without ever understanding it or even reading it, which is a lot harder to do when you're putting down one letter at a time, in ink, on paper.)


I love my Kindle. It may bring about the end of civilization as we know it, but I'm not giving up my Kindle. Maybe having a bookstore handy at 3 am would be just as good, but I really like feeling like I'm in a bookstore 24/7.


Considering that my latest obsession is collecting pictures of cool libraries, I'm sort of against the Kindle as well.


Nobody I've asked seems to know, but can you archive books you download to Kindle after you read them, say on your computer or on a disk?


I am amused by the juxtaposition of burritoboy's comment with The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice in the Mannion Family Movie Night there to the right.


Re: archiving books from Kindle, yes, you can. Books you buy from Amazon are stored in the cloud in Your Media Library, and can be deleted from your Kindle and redownloaded. You can also connect your Kindle to your computer via USB and copy the files over; I've done this with books I've gotten from other sources, such as feedbooks and manybooks. The 1st generation Kindle also had a slot for a SD card, which I have also used.


If you like sniffing, fondling, and drooling over the masticated corpses of dead trees, fine. I will stick with my Kindle.

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